A person cannot directly choose circumstances, but can choose their thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape their circumstances.
-- James Allen, 1864-1912, Author of As a Man Thinketh
A few years ago, one of my personal training clients asked me to help him manipulate his diet. He wanted me to provide a substitution for his daily lunch of a cheeseburger with French fries. He had been eating this lunch three to five days per week for about two years. You might be surprised at what I told him. I recommended that he remove the cheese from the burger for two weeks and then we'd analyze it again after that.
So what's the moral of the story? In order to create motivation and new habits, you need to coax it with small changes -- not force it. This philosophy has worked for many of my clients and for eDiet members who have a dislike for exercise.
Your goal should be to create a successful time period of exercise with a limited number of days. Tell someone who dislikes exercise to work out four to six days per week and you know what you get? Failure waiting to happen.
I've always recommended that people who hate to exercise but know they should, limit their exercise to twice per week for 30 days. Why so little? Well, I know anyone can commit to two days per week for 30 days. So immediately we remove the dreaded feeling that plagues many individuals. Why 30 days? Because we need to create a timeframe along with quantifiable goals (two days per week of workouts) in order for the mind and the emotions to experience a feeling of success.
The key here is to create a realistic plan of consistency -- so that at the end of 30 days you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I did it! I completed all my workouts for one consecutive month."
If you think this is psychological mumbo jumbo, think again. Remember, your mind doesn't want something forced upon it that it dislikes. However, your mind also loves achieving goals and your body likes feeling more energized. At the end of one month, with this minimal activity, you will increase energy and you'll also serve to empower yourself.
If you're a beginner and want to increase motivation, try two 30-40 minute workouts of your choice on alternate days of the week. If you're more advanced and have been working out for quite some time at four to six days per week but you've lost motivation, cut back to three days per week for 30-35 minutes.
Remember, one month of consistency, but you do have to get all the workouts in.
I guarantee as your muscles get a little tighter and as you slightly increase your energy, you'll want more at the end of 30 days. It'll catch fire and you'll be on your way to the body you really want and deserve.
Don't forget to choose activity you enjoy. It can be aerobic videos, Yoga, Pilates, weight training, or even just a 30-minute moderate walk at lunch time.
What can you expect? If you remain consistent, at the end of 30 days you'll have a desire to add one more day, or possibly just increase your time a bit.
We live in an all-or-nothing society and forget that small, consistent changes have more power than the "I'm going to work out six days per week and lose 10 pounds in two weeks mentality."
Try my small and consistent changes for one solid month and I bet you end up feeling better physically and mentally.
If you want to take it to the next level, then a realistic diet and workout plan provided by eDiets may be your answer as well.
A drug-free competitive bodybuilder and winner of the prestigious WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Pro Card, Raphael Calzadilla is a veteran of the health-and-fitness industry. He specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training. He earned his B.A. in communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics.